MANILA, Philippines -- Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas, the reigning women's Ballon d'Or winner, believes it is crucial for the development of women's football that countries like Vietnam and the Philippines are able to compete in the FIFA Women's World Cup.
Both the Philippines and Vietnam are making their maiden appearances in the showpiece event, having qualified at the AFC Women's Asian Cup 2022.
The Philippine women's national football team had a historic campaign in India, advancing to the semifinals for the first time ever. Vietnam, meanwhile, qualified via the repechage play-offs.
"I think it's very important because the more countries that have plans to develop women's football, the better the spectacle," Putellas said Friday in a media roundtable, when asked of the significance of developing football nations making it to the World Cup.
Barcelona's Putellas, 28, had been part of the Spain team that played in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada -- the first time that they ever competed in the tournament.
She was also part of the Spanish squad that advanced to the round-of-16 in the 2019 Women's World Cup in Paris. As of 2022, Putellas has the record of most caps for Spain, with 96 appearances since her senior debut in 2013.
Barcelona and Spain midfielder Alexia Putellas on Vietnam and the Philippines' upcoming appearance in the FIFA Women's World Cup 2023. Video courtesy of FC Barcelona Femení.
"I think all countries of the world should do it and with all the support required from FIFA or their local confederation, because I think it's an obligation to do that," Putellas said of developing the women's game.
Spain is on track to qualify for the World Cup for the third edition in a row, as they are currently 5-0 in Group B of the European qualifiers. La Roja are also among the favorites to triumph in the UEFA Women's Euro in July.
"At this summer's European Championship, there are about eight teams that could easily win it," said Putellas. "And the World Cup is the same. I think it'll be a very even World Cup with a lot of competition."
The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup will be held from July 20 to August 20 in New Zealand and Australia.